It’s that time of year again… we sit around the table, eat delicious food, and share our New Year’s resolutions. The New Year is a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, and life changes. But how many of you find yourselves falling into the same habits after just a couple of weeks or even a few days? I know I do! 

At the beginning of the year, we often make unrealistic goals that demand immediate change. We become overwhelmed and stressed and consequently… we give up. Failing at our goals can create increased anxiety and depression in our lives. It could be that our typical New Year’s resolutions are doing more harm than good. So… how can we create goals that motivate and empower as opposed to resolutions that dishearten and discourage? This year, Early Life invites you to make SMART resolutions.  

What does it mean when a goal is SMART? 

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. A specific goal indicates knowing exactly what we are trying to accomplish. Measurable means that we have a way to check our progress. Achievable includes feeling confident and having the necessary tools to make it happen. Relevant indicates a goal that is personal and makes sense for our lives. Time-bound signifies a deadline in which we need to meet our goal. 

So let’s think of a classic New Year’s Resolution.

“This year I will wake up early.” 

While this isn’t a bad goal, it fails to meet the criteria to be considered a SMART goal. How can we change this goal to make it specific

“This year I will wake up every weekday at 6:30 am and every weekend at 8:00 am.”

Now that we have specified the time that we will wake up for each day of the week, how can we make our goal measurable?

“In my phone I will record the time that I wake up each morning. That way I can measure if I am waking up every weekday at 6:30 am and every weekend at 8:00.”

Now we have a way to measure our goal, but is our goal achievable?

“I will wake up every weekday at 6:30 am and every weekend at 8:00 am. This goal will help me to grow, but it is not unrealistic. I will set one alarm before my wakeup time so I can hit the snooze button and still feel like I got a little extra sleep.”

Now we don’t feel overwhelmed about our goal. How about making our goal relevant?

“I will wake up every weekday at 6:30 am and every weekend at 8:00 am so that I can have more energy and more time to be productive.”

Now we understand why our goal is important to us which will help us stick to it. Is our goal time-bound?

“I will give myself two months to develop a habit of waking up every weekday at 6:00 am and every weekend at 8:00 am.”

Now we know when we want to reach our goal and a deadline to keep us accountable. 

We have created a SMART goal…One that will foster real change and will help us to feel capable and accomplished. Feel free to use this exercise with your own personal resolutions. Post them on social media and tag us:

Instagram: @earlylifepsych 

Facebook: @www.earlylifechildpsychology